Working Plan B

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I had lunch with my childhood pal Lori today. This morning she texted me to confirm the time, and she sent me the below pic with the caption “Celebrating all things Sharon today!” Pop-tarts with butter is my favorite comfort food breakfast, and Lori and her Mom were the ones who primed the pump on my love for it as a teenage girl. She has known me just about forever.

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She also gave me this little refrigerator magnet. She thought of me immediately when she saw it. I am definitely a gal who lives in Plan B. In fact, I think I prefer Plan B. And often Plans C, D and E have even better things to offer.

I am a project manager in my role now. This week I’m facilitating my last meetings, documenting my projects for my replacement and saying goodbyes. But I’m also managing a major project at home. Relocating is a project in every sense of the word. In fact, somewhere deep in my hard drive, I have a project plan for moving. I never use it anymore because I know what I have to do. Besides, nothing will turn out like I planned, and it all will turn out alright. One day in the near future I will be blogging on my sofa in my little house beside Lake Michigan. It is going to happen, but it probably won’t be pretty. And I like life messy like that.

My very first project was at Whirlpool. I was on the Service 2000 team, and we were centralizing Whirlpool Factory Service. I thought a project sounded fun, but I had no idea what it would be like. All of my jobs prior to that were very clear cut and routine. My role was to develop the training for the parts branches across the country. My boss, Magie, was a little spitfire. She was about 4′ tall and some change, weighed about 85 pounds, had a pixie haircut and 20 earrings up the sides of her ears. She was very, very sharp, and she scared people to death. I LOVED her. I wanted to be sharp and focused and driven like her. She was our project manager.

I was standing in a parts branch in Houston one afternoon when she told me that I had to develop the training for the parts branches. This was the first time I’d ever stepped foot into a parts branch, so I assumed there’d be a person who could tell me how it worked, and how it should work in the future. Magie told me to ask Ralph. “Ralph is working on the parts side,” she said. “He knows all about how the parts operation should work.” When I got back to Knoxville, I asked Ralph to train me on the parts side so I could develop the training. He looked at me like I was crazy. “I’ve never even been to a parts branch,” he said. I giggled nervously and walked off. I had the sinking feeling that nobody knew how this was supposed to work, and I was going to have to figure it out. It was my first “Plan B” experience on a project, and I dove in.

For the first five or so months at my new job I will be on a project. They are centralizing the Global HR function. If it’s like any other project I’ve ever worked on, it will be behind schedule. There will be at least one major deliverable that is not going at all as planned, and it will more than likely be impacting other deliverables. It will definitely be understaffed for the amount of work that needs to be done. And, the date when it needs to be finished will be set in stone. I have absolutely no expectation that I’ll be walking into a well-oiled machine next week. And I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to jump aboard and see what I can take on. There will be days when I hate it, but there will be more days that I will be in Plan B heaven.

I am very sad to be leaving my projects here. One in particular has been my baby from the very first conference call. Today I said goodbye to my team and kicked off my transition plan. We are at a really good place since the big work is just around the corner. But, it’s also a place where things can start to get derailed. Our call today had a few hiccups, and after I hung up, I had that sinking feeling that everything was falling apart. But, this time, I don’t get to pick up the pieces and paste it back together. This one I have to hand off with the hope that the next project manager is just as excited about the inevitable Plan B. I have other Plan Bs to launch up north. Call me crazy, but I’m ready to jump into the fray.

Note to self: Pick up some pop-tarts and butter. I think I’m going to need them.

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